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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Former Financial Affairs Committee Chair forced to resign: A critique of Macalester and its probationary process

As you all have probably heard, I am resigning from my position as Financial Affairs Committee Chair. The purpose of writing this op-ed is to give a quick overview of what led to my forced resignation and why I feel salty about the appeal process at Macalester. I’d like to argue for what changes should be made to make the appeals process more holistic for students.

Last spring, I entered an unhealthy relationship with someone. I spent a lot of my semester crying, feeling as if I was going crazy. I told friends snippets of what was going on, but never the full story. I didn’t think people would understand how degrading it was to be called a bad Black feminist or to be coerced into having sex with a partner because “sometimes you do things you don’t want to do because you care about that person.” My academics stopped becoming a high priority, hence my placement on academic probation. I’m not in any way trying to write a sob story to make the Macalester community feel bad for me. I admit I went out of my way to not seek help because at that time, I wasn’t ready to move on.

Then on September 6th I received a letter from Ann Minnick notifying me that I had to resign from my position. The letter did not say I had any right to appeal- I only found this out through a conversation with Jim Hoppe. I wasn’t sure if it was even a good idea to appeal- it seemed, even then, like it wouldn’t be taken seriously. I met with her the same day I got the letter to mull over my options. I was pretty open with her about what led to my probation. Ann told me if I chose to appeal part of my probation to keep my position as chair, I would have to email her a letter detailing what changed and why I felt ready to maintain the position. She said there would be a meeting between her, Jim Hoppe, and possible Jayne Niemi pending on the circumstances. From how she said it, I understood it as a meeting with me included.

Two days after I emailed her, she sent me an email saying she decided to deny my appeal: “As you well know, emotionally traumatic events can continue to reverberate long into the future. I think it’s best for you this coming semester to focus on your own emotional health and your academics.” That statement could have been valid advice from a friend, and even if Jim Hoppe had written this I would have taken what he said to heart- simply because he has been a part of my Macalester experience for so long. But I have had one conversation with Ann Minnick, and her statement didn’t mean anything substantial to me- in fact it came across as a disingenuous attempt to appear empathetic when really she was just concerned with Macalester’s image. Saying she didn’t want to bend the rules because “the rules are the rules” is more valid than saying its because of my emotional trauma. Do I have reverberating trauma? Yes. Does Ann Minnick know enough about it? No.

In Immigrant Acts by Lisa Lowe, she explains a pattern she sees in today’s institutions of higher learning: “the university still continues to be organized by means of a bifurcated conception that at once protects Western cultural study as a largely autonomous domain and democratizes the institution only to the extent which it addresses the needs of a heterogeneous student population…” (37). Lowe is stating how universities promote a “multiculturalist” agenda through affirmative action programs, but still adhere to Western canonization in education. A connection can be made between a Western canonization in education and a canonization of student leaders on campus. Macalester promotes images of diversity, but only of those which fit its multiculturalist agenda. When someone is diverse in life experiences Macalester doesn’t approve of (aka KWOC or students with PTSD), Macalester actively chooses to hide them. The administration taking away my one connection to campus (aside from classes) and painting it as if they care about me makes me angry. I’m left knowing that what I embody- a woman of color who’s also an incest survivor with PTSD- isn’t what the administration is comfortable seeing in a student leader on campus.

In the future, I’d like some changes to be made with the appeals process. Every student placed on any kind of probation, regardless of which kind, should be told in their letter of probation that they have the right to appeal. The appeals process should be clearly explained on the website. When students are appealing, the process should be longer than an email exchange. There should be more involvement of academic advisors, counselors, and other faculty and staff who can attest to the competency of students. We should prioritize the well-being of students rather than the image of the campus.

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